Days later and I’m still exhausted from Boston College’s defeat at the hands of the mighty Clemson Tigers. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, it was an amazing day right up until you walked into the stadium. Even then, BC as an institution and as a football program had a big day.
As I said last week, this was an era-defining game. While we didn’t win, we didn’t get embarrassed like Clemson’s other recent opponents. It wasn’t quite the strong showing that I was hoping for, but with Anthony Brown going down with an injury and EJ Perry forgetting he had hands on a few plays, I’m proud of the team’s effort. As we said, our defense is for real, and came to play, limiting Clemson to only 20 offensive points. Mike Walker deserves all the credit in the world for that punt return TD, which was truly one of the best moments I’ve ever had in Alumni.
With that, however, we’re onto Florida State.
Ruminations and Considerations
BC @FSU has hangover game written all over for it, and the boys must come out fired up and ready to go. We’re all exhausted after last Saturday. Now it’s time to see if the team can make up for it.
Despite FSU’s record this year, the team has talent. Willie Taggart will be looking to keep FSU’s *checks notes* 36 YEAR BOWL STREAK (dear heavens) going. They will also be looking to get some payback against a BC team that gave them a good paddling last year.
BC is the better team this year, is better coached this year, and has the better talent this year. It also is primed for a let down after the most emotional game on campus in a decade plus. To be honest, Addazio’s press conference this Monday didn’t do much to assuage my concerns:
That is not a man fired up for this week. That’s a man recovering from last week. Lets see what he needs to do to get through it.
When the Eagles have the Ball
For all of the talk and articles alleging that Anthony Brown is day-to-day I call shenanigans. My gut tells me Addazio is playing this one close to the vest and we will be seeing EJ Perry under center for BC’s first snap. I find it hard to believe that AB could be receiving treatment at the hospital one Saturday and ready to go the next. Earlier this year Daz used the same coach-speak with AJ Dillon, who then didn’t make the flight to NC State. We might know about this one fairly early.
Speaking of the big dog, Dillon is dinged up as well. The Doak Walker Award Semifinalist quite frankly hasn’t been right for a long time, possibly all year. His injury report is essentially more of the same, but I’d prefer him to get fewer carries this week to limit his exposure. It may fall to the Eagles’ bevy of backs that Addazio refused to use last week, Bailey, Glines, and Levy, to fall in behind this offensive line.
If EJ Perry is the quarterback, Tommy Sweeney and Travis Levy will be his best friends. With a half-decent effort running the ball, the PA and Screen game should be wide open. Sweeney has been due for a breakout game all year. With a banged up offense, its time for the senior TE to show NFL scouts why he’s here. I can easily envision a game where the BC QB (especially if its Perry) has 180 yards passing, with 125 of them going to Sweeney.
Despite its lackluster year, the FSU defense is rangy and active. It doesn’t have the same collection of stone walls that Clemson had, but it’s filled with young playmakers who are likely better than their results this year. Sophomore Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen leads the team in tackles and measures in at 6-4, 215, a size that will give fits for BC’s receivers. FR DB Asante Samuel Jr. (yes, his son. yes, we’re old. no, there’s nothing we can do about it) has 8 pass breakups in his rookie campaign. Also, expect the matchup of BC’s OL vs. JR DE Brian Burns to get some… burn (HA). Burns has 12.5 TFLs, 9.0 Sacks, and 14.5 Run stops. When/If matched up against Chris Lindstrom, it will be a preview of NFL Sundays.
FSU has an odd defensive statistical profile. Its passing defense S&P+ (33) is higher than its rushing defense S&P+ (45), but it is significantly better on standard downs (27) than passing downs (56). This tells me that when FSU has a chance to get off the field, it doesn’t, likely a byproduct of all of the youth on the team. This is also influenced by its middling sack rates.
SURVIVE AND ADVANCE.
I don’t care if EJ Perry or Anthony Brown or Doug Flutie or Billy Donlan is under center for the Eagles. It shouldn’t matter. Everyone gets on Addazio for running the ball too much. This week, I want to hear NONE OF THAT. Anthony Brown is hurt. AJ Dillon is dinged up. We just lost to Clemson. Our pets heads are falling off. The best way to overcome that adversity? Three yards and a cloud of dust, baby.
This game will be decided by the BC Offensive line. I’m going to be blunt: this squad has failed to live up to the expectations of this year. They’ve got an absolute mauler in Ben Petrula, and Chris Lindstrom is an NFL talent, but something has been off all year. I wonder if its more scheme than talent. Across the board this is an athletic offensive line unit. Getting to the second level isn’t typically a challenge for them, nor is moving in space. I think BC may need to shift its gameplan over its final 3 games to allow the OL to put a move on: it will open up the offense horizontally and allow the running backs to operate in more space. This will be crucial if Levy is the bellcow this game.
FSU’s defensive line is no match for the Eagles OL if the Birds are half-interested in this game. BC should be able to set the tone by pushing piles and getting push at the LOS. By doing so, it will open up the offense for more varied runs and some play action.
I doubt we’ll see much trickery or jet sweeps here. The point of attack is the point of victory for BC this week.
When FSU has the Ball
Boston College has had trouble offensively at certain points this year. They pale in comparison to FSU’s struggles. FSU’s offense comes in ranked 104th in S&P+ and it all starts up front. This FSU OL has been pushed around and beaten up all year. They are porous. Deondre Francois is a legit quarterback, leading this team to a respectable 56th in passing S&P+, but he’s not a miracle worker. The FSU offensive line that paved the way for Cam Akers last year hasn’t been the same, with a rushing S&P+ (121) near the bottom of the NCAA.
FR WR Tamorrion Terry (29/554/7) can give us nightmares this week, standing at 6-4, 217. He pairs nicely with SR Nyqwan Murray (48/650/3) who will be looking to turn his strong year into an NFL career.
This unit played with a lot of heart last week, even if it ended in vain. The numbers still like this squad, coming at 25th in overall S&P+ defense. Jim Reid and my paisano Anthony Campanile had a great gameplan chalked up that kept Clemson off balance all night.
I don’t know what more to say about these boys. Zach Allen is a monster. Hamp Cheevers is a hawk. Tanner Karafa looks like the kid from School of Rock. This is a complete unit, entirely different from the squad from earlier this year. They are aggressive, disciplined, and a nightmare for offenses.
MORE LIKE BLITZTON COLLEGE, AMIRITE?
Seriously, we need to blitz a ton. As stated above, the FSU OL is, as the French say, trash. My absolute favorite advanced stat about the FSU offense is they rate 126th IN THE COUNTRY in blitz down success rate. The sack rate on those downs is 10.1%, good for 78th in the country. Bottom line = get them into blitzing downs, BC will RAVAGE this OL. I envision Allen and Ray meeting in the backfield all day for a pint, and waiting for the rest of the game to blow over.
FSU rates decently in their big plays, but with Will Harris and Lukas Denis manning the safety positions, I just can’t see the top getting taken off of the defense. This just happens to be a great match-up for BC’s D, and it is coming at the right time.
When Michael Walker Returns the Ball
Adding a new section just for this week because OMG THIS MATCHUP. FSU Punt Efficiency? 114th in the country. BC Punt return Efficiency? 4TH IN THE GD COUNTRY.
ROLL THAT BEAUTIFUL RETURN FOOTAGE
Boston College is rated higher than FSU in Overall S&P+, Offensive S&P+, Defensive S&P+, and Special Teams S&P+. Our defense is set up to STIFLE their offense. Unfortunately, offensive unknowns could plague BC. The Eagles need to stay on target and grind themselves into an offensive rhythm. I also envision Michael Walker having a FIELD DAY, with him and the D placing the Eagles in excellent field position all day.
If this we’re almost any other week in the season, I’d have the Eagles winning this game 28-7. However, this is a big hangover week and with questions at QB I think we’re going to see some sloppy Eagle play.
The offense has a few fumbles and dropped passes, placing the defense in some precarious positions. FSU fights with its pride on the line in an attempt to avenge last season. All of this adds up to make this one closer than it needs to be. Birds win it, 24-17.